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April 26, 2012

We Must Take Great Care to Look After the Elderly (UK)

24 April 2012
We must take great care to look after the elderly
By Colette Douglas Home
Columnist


An elderly woman lies partially clothed on a bed.
Standing over her, a male carer pushes her this way and that as he gives her a bed bath. "Ouch," she cries. He slaps her. There's no provocation.
The woman is 78 years old. She suffers from Alzheimer's. Her name is Maria Worroll. She's a resident of Ash Court care home in Kentish Town, London. Would we ever have known about her mistreatment if her daughter hadn't placed a camera secretly in her room?
The scene was broadcast last night by the BBC, the second exposé of abuse of elderly residents in care homes in less than a year. The previous scandal involved Winterbourne View in Bristol. Residents there were secretly filmed being dragged along floors and being slapped. How much more abuse is going undetected in rooms or homes without hidden cameras?
Ash Court had an "excellent" rating from the Care Quality Commission which has the responsibility of inspecting homes in England. Thanks to Mrs Worroll's daughter, Jonathan Aquino, the care-worker who delivered the slap, is serving 18 months for assault. Imagine how frightened and bewildered her mother must have been.
Also consider how corrosive incidents like these are. They undermine confidence in the elderly care system. They make old people fearful of how they will be treated when they become incapable of looking after themselves. They alarm the families of those who are already in care homes. How can they be sure their elderly mother or father hasn't been abused too?
Don't imagine that this is a problem confined to England just because the BBC has exposed two homes south of the Border. In May 2011 the Elsie Inglis private nursing home in Edinburgh was closed following the deaths of two residents.
An independent Parliamentary inquiry followed the Elsie Inglis closure. As a consequence, planned cuts to the Care Inspectorate in Scotland were partly reversed. An annual unannounced inspection regime was also introduced.
Age Scotland has welcomed the improvements but points out that 7.6% of Scotland's care homes are ranked as delivering weak or unsatisfactory care. There are 913 care homes in Scotland. That means more than 60 are weak or unsatisfactory. I don't know about you but they don't sound to me like the kind of place I would want to leave an elderly parent.
A spokesman for Age Scotland said yesterday: "Clearly there is more to be done." Indeed there is.

 Abridged
SOURCE:     Herald Scotland, UK

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